Pros: Comfortable for Six Adults, Dual Zone Air Conditioning, Quiet, Unique Styling
Cons: Heavy Which Translates into Poor Fuel Economy and Fair Acceleration
I'm shopping for a work vehicle to replace my ten-year-old Dakota The Dakota is the best vehicle I've ever owned; running 200 K miles with only minor maintenance and one transmission overhaul. Since I carry some sensitive test equipment, I decided a SUV might be more appropriate to my work requirements. I no longer have the 5500 pound boat, so I do not require the torque and subsequent poor mileage of a V8.
Since I keep vehicles for a long time, I spend a lot of time shopping and try to find one I really like. If I like the vehicle, I will keep it 10 or 15 years. Therefore, I often rent vehicles that I am considering for business trips to get a long term test drive.
Recently I rented a Pacifica Touring AWD for a lengthy trip. I like this vehicle, although I'm not sure what it really is. The Pacifica is not a mini-van, nor a station wagon and not a SUV. It borrows some of the best features from the mini-van and SUV and puts them into an attractive package.
I like the looks of the Pacifica. From the front it resembles a mini-van and from the back it reminds me of a wide SUV.
The Pacifica has 4 doors and a rear hatch, more like a SUV than a van. The doors are wide and it's easy to get in without banging your knees or head. The rear door lifts to reveal a large opening almost 4 feet wide. It was easy to load and unload heavy equipment through the rear hatch.
The aerodynamics are good which provides for a quiet ride and not much mud on the back of the Pacifica.
I immediately liked the styling and comfort of the Pacifica. It has a quality look and feel, and reasonably soft seats. The seats provide good lateral support, yet are comfortable on long haul trips. The leather seats in my Pacifica were heated which was a pleasant feature for cold mornings. Happiness is a warm seat in a cold car. The heater and dual zone features worked well and made long trips more pleasant with a passenger. We each could set our temperature and not freeze or roast the other.
The rear seats fold flat and provide a flat loading floor. There is 80 CU FT of cargo space with the seats folded down flat. This is on par with most SUVs. You can carry quite a bit of cargo, but I wouldn't plan to use it to haul plywood or drywall.
Unfold the seats and the Pacifica can seat 4 adults and 3 children. The second row passengers have their own air conditioning outlets and DC power.
The illumination on the instrumentation was visually impressive. The speedometer was fairly easy to read at night, but not quite as easily read in the daytime. I liked the look, but I'm not certain I would want this long-term.
There are too many buttons on the steering wheel. I don't want 6 buttons to operate the cruise control, as three will fill every need I have of the cruise. I had to take my eyes off the road to engage the cruise even after a week of driving.
Acceleration is not the strong suite of the Pacifica. The V-6 engine delivers 250 HP which provides acceptable performance. Zero to Sixty times are over 9 seconds, which gives it van-like performance.
The engine is somewhat noisy at full-throttle acceleration. I measured 76 dBA at full-throttle. The sound pressure dropped to a very quiet 64 dBA under normal driving conditions. Overall, the Pacifica is quiet and pleasant.
The Pacifica is heavy and it feels it. Abandon any ideas of entering an Auto-Cross or Rally. The handling is not bad, but I would never describe this vehicle as nimble. It is on par with most SUVs and mini-vans. The handling is fair and predictable. I didn't encounter any nasty handling characteristics when I had to dodge deer. The Pacifica has a mild understeer and the tail stays put in hard cornering.
The weight also hampers fuel economy. I averaged about 17 mpg in mixed city/highway driving. Given the weight, the economy is very good. But, it should be better.
The brakes are superior. I had to make several hard stops and never detected a hint of fade. Stopping distances were excellent, given the high weight of the Pacifica. It had anti-lock brakes, but I never triggered the ABS, even with hard stops. The 4 wheel discs provide straight and controllable stops.
The Pacifica had an upgraded sound system, but I was unimpressed. The bass was weak, even with the bass boost wide open. The high frequencies were muddy. I would opt for an after-market system and save several hundred bucks in the process.
I like most everything about the Pacifica. I would seriously consider a Pacifica if my kids and dog were still at home. But, it just doesn't fulfill my needs for a work vehicle traveling the gravel roads and muddy roads.
The Pacifica is too heavy. This weight makes the handling cumbersome and hampers the acceleration. If the engineers could pare 600 pounds off the Pacifica, it would be an ideal vehicle and it would get better mileage. I think a lighter and nimble Pacifica would have me reach for the checkbook.